Author: amcewen

"Finances Update, and Price Rises"

It’s been a couple of weeks since the start of our recruitment drive, so an update is in order.

There have been some promising developments, and a few things kicked off which should bear fruit in a while, but there’s still a decent amount to do to get back on track.

Thank You!

Since the call went out, we’ve gained six new friends, two more business address accounts and three new workshop members, which straight away takes us a sixth of the way towards our target.

Thanks, all of you.

Difficult Decisions

We’ve also had a couple of meetings to work things out.

Mark W arranged a meeting to discuss ways to help promote the space, which threw up some useful new ideas, and gained some more hands to help with things that are a work-in-progress. Minutes/notes from the session are on the wiki.

We also called a Directors and Organisers meeting, to explore worst-case scenarios and ensure that we take steps to avoid such outcomes. There were two key decisions made at that meeting:

Firstly, we decided that – unless our finances improve dramatically by the end of the year – we’d have to give up Dinky, the event room. Given that most of our outgoings are on rent, losing rooms is the main way we can reduce our costs; and Dinky is the obvious, if painful choice as it brings in comparatively little income. With your help, we’ve got three months to turn things around.

Secondly, from 1st November we’re going to raise some of our prices, for the first time since we opened over three years ago.

Our daily price – for hot-desking and workshop access – is going up to £10/day. That will have the benefit of separating the full-time and daily prices more, to make people more likely to switch to full-time desks. Obviously, any hot-desk days you’ve already purchased, but not used, will still be at the old price; and to help current hot-deskers with the transition, you’re welcome to purchase a generous block of days at the current price until the end of the month.

The monthly workshop membership is also going up to £50/month. We’d like to thank our existing workshop members by keeping the old price for them until the end of the year.

Finally, we’re bringing in a charge for laser-cutter inductions. Getting inducted during Maker Night or Maker Day will of course remain free, but if you need someone to show you how to use the laser-cutters during office hours, there’ll be a £20 charge.

Keep spreading the word.

"EMF Camp Report"

Our correspondent Francis Irving sends this report whilst on the train back from the excellent EMF Camp:

It is part the UK’s national hackerspace festival with an amazing number of spaces turning up from all over the country. Stunning.

And part an out shoot of Chaos Communications Camp (CCC), so there were lots of continental Europeans on the crazy circuit of such spinoff camps.

Highlights for me were:

  • Seeing quadcopters fly high and wide
  • Sociology of computer security talk (by Jessica Barker)
  • Why is there no hacking of housing infrastructure? And a call for more (Vinay Gupta)
  • Learn to speak dog body language
  • Arm knitting workshop
  • Playing the terrifyingly realistic Nuclear Poker arms race simulation card game
  • Physical version of Space Team game

Plus generally hanging out with a wide range of geek friends from all sorts of places.

Overall there was lots of talks, workshops, and good opportunities to make makery connections. And if you have a project, get help, advice, customers and so on.

e.g. A friend of my Tom Oinn gave a short talk about a simple Arduino based wheel robot with easy mounting points (eg for robot arms) he has made, and in the audience someone from Ragworm appeared, seriously interested in selling it.

Also, was good to hear unprompted reports of DoES startup Housahedron from Berlin expats!

All told, our national maker infrastructure is getting pretty good.

Would be fun to have DoES camp next time, but only if we have fun stuff to show, and the work of organising it isn’t by our overburdened usual suspects!

"Giant Viewing Party"

Over the next few days Liverpool will be following the progress of a couple of giants as they roam the city.

As you can see from the itinerary in the above link, here at DoES Liverpool we should have a great view of them as they come along Hanover Street tomorrow.

Hot-deskers and residents will get to see the Little Girl Giant and her dog Xolo around lunchtime as they pass one way, and then later on (we’re guessing about 5pm) the Grandmother Giant will pass by on her way to Newsham Park.

As it’ll be Friday afternoon, we figured it would be nice to break from work early and have a bit of a viewing party to watch the Grandmother pass by.

So, we’re going to get some cake, ice-creams and drinks, and open up DoES to all our friends from 4pm on Friday. Come along, have a chat and an ice-cream, and watch some giants with us.

"A DoES Liverpool Re-org"

tl; dr – we’re shifting how DoES is organised a bit, jump to “Three Overlapping Groups” to skip the history of how we got here…

Since it started back in 2011, DoES Liverpool has (deliberately) had a fairly loose organisational structure. Because it’s run by the members, for the members, and because everyone is a volunteer there’s a tendency for it to be a do-ocracy – what gets done is mostly what people are motivated enough to do. We are Do Epic Shit Liverpool after all, not Talk About Epic Shit…

We haven’t found the people who enjoy emptying bins, restocking the tuck shop, or answering emails to book the laser-cutter yet (though if that’s you, we should talk… 😉 but luckily there’s a core group of organisers who realise that taking care of the boring stuff is the only way things work. Plus there’s a wider community of people happy to help out for more occasional tasks, like decorating New Dinky or helping move laser-cutters…

It’s never been perfect – with more marketing we probably could have grown more quickly, and at times I think the organisers have focused on doing and neglected some of the explaining what was going on. This blog post is part of us trying to do better on that latter point as things get rejigged a little.

Despite all that, we’ve grown steadily over the two-and-a-half years we’ve been running – taking on two extra rooms, and continually improving the facilities: whether that’s the second (and huge) laser-cutter or vinyl cutter we’ve recently added to the workshop; or kitting out New Dinky to make it work as both hot-desk space and event room. More importantly, the number of people calling DoES home continues to grow – we’re going to have to squeeze in some extra desks if we get many more residents and we’re running out of free evenings for all the meetups and events taking place: out of 26 days that the building is open in January, there’s an event or meetup taking place on 16 of those days.

For a while now, we’ve been wondering how we can best adapt to cope with the admin overhead (for want of a better term) that generates. You might remember talk about taking on a part-time administrator, and while we haven’t done that yet, it’s still a possibility.

We’ve also begun to understand that we need to have a longer-term view of how DoES Liverpool could, or should, look to evolve. How does DoES fit into the wider tech, maker and startup community in Liverpool, in the UK, in the world?

Thinking about this isn’t a particularly new thing, these have all been recurring themes discussed among the organisers and the wider community on many occasions (only some of which involving the pub…) since long before DoES came into existence.

However, towards the end of last year we (organisers plus a few others) decided it was time to more formally acknowledge how things have been evolving…

Three Overlapping Groups

The organisational activities within DoES seem to be split largely into three groups – events; day-to-day; and longer-term/wider picture. They are all equally important to the functioning of the community, and there’ll be plenty of overlap in membership between the different groups. However, focusing on one aspect at a time lets the right people get together without bogging them down in discussions they don’t (passionately) care about.

There’ll still be ad-hoc groups formed for specific tasks or projects, but these are the core continual groups. Until something better emerges… 😉

Event Organisers Group

Paul Freeman has been the unofficial “ents manager” for a while now, and with the number of events being held at DoES Liverpool these days, there are quite a few people who run them who aren’t part of the organisers group.

An event organisers group will let them share tips on what works and what doesn’t, cross-promote new events/groups, and discuss things like Paul’s proposed improvements to New Dinky. For now, discussions for this group will remain on the general DoES mailing list, but Paul will be reaching out to the events organisers to see what they think (and check that they know about the mailing list!)

Organisers Group

This is likely to be the biggest group, or at least the most active. Responsible for day-to-day running of the space – answering emails about hot-desking or laser-cutting; emptying bins; making sure there’s someone to cover opening up each day or any evenings there’s an event on; ordering consumables; restocking the kitchen stores; etc.

Not that everyone in the group has to do all of those tasks, but it’s the group making sure that the space works and people can get on with their real projects when they’re at the space. As such, it’s helpful if the organisers are people who are around regularly, but there are probably tasks where that’s not essential.

Radar Group

This group takes a longer-range perspective on DoES. Both in terms of time – what could DoES look like in a year? How do we work that out? What do we need to do to head in that direction? – and also in the wider community – how does DoES present itself to the rest of the city? Are there other groups we could work with to everyone’s benefit?

We think it makes sense for this group to also have a couple of people on it from outside of the normal DoES community – people who’ll bring different expertise and perspectives to help us develop and grow, and reach more diverse communities. To that end, one of the first tasks of the radar group will be to identify who those people would be, so if you’ve any suggestions of individuals or of ways that DoES lacks diversity or skills, then let us know. You can post to the thread about this on the DoES mailing list (details on joining the mailing list are here) or email

What Next?

There’s a thread to discuss this on the DoES mailing list, or if you’d like to make less public comments then email or speak/email one of the organisers (Adrian McEwen, John McKerrell, Paul Freeman, Steve Sparrow, Hakim Cassimally, Patrick Fenner, Andy Goodwin).

There’s also the next organisational meeting this coming Friday, 10th January, at 5:30pm in New Dinky at DoES Liverpool (with the option to convene to a pub afterwards…). Strictly speaking this will be the first meeting of the Organisers Group, but is likely to be a bit of a transitional one from Events/Organisers/Radar to separate meetings.

"Merry Christmas from DoES Liverpool (plus an Oscilloscope and an Arduino Due…)"

‘Twas the night before Christmas… okay, it was the night before the night before Christmas when this happened, but that doesn’t sound so poetic, and I’m writing this blog post on Christmas Eve…

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through DoES Liverpool not a creature was stirring, except for a couple of hackers tinkering around.

Mathew Carr had called into the space in search of an oscilloscope and an Arduino, so he could try out some code he’d been slaving over at home. His initial plan was to run it all on an Arduino Duemilanove using two of the PWM outputs, smoothed with capacitors, but we couldn’t find any of quite the right value to generate a good output.

So, plan B, which was to switch to using an Arduino Due, which has two digital-to-analogue converter channels to produce proper analogue outputs. That worked much better, as you can see in the video below…

Merry Christmas from DoES Liverpool!

"Upcycling Farnell Boxes to Make a Laser-cut Workshop Sign"

At Maker Day this month, the Future Makers were on the laser-cutter cutting these geometric shapes out of cardboard to then tessellate into cool 3-dimensional shapes.

Playing with the cardboard and laser-cutter reminded me that we could do with a sign for the workshop door (we also laser-cut some new “we’re in the workshop” signs to help direct people round too).

For our cutting materials we were just using old cardboard boxes from the recycling pile, and the first Workshop sign we cut was from a crisp box.

Take 1

Once we’d cut that we realised that it would look better (particularly on a wooden door) with a contrasting colour behind the cut-out section. At which point inspiration struck!

The Farnell boxes (given the number of people building things with electronics round here, we have one or two knocking about…) have a colourful wavy pattern design on the side!

Raw Materials

We soon had one flattened and ready to feed into the laser-cutter. Andrew pointed out that if we could provide a bit of depth between the text and the background you’d also get a neat parallax effect as you walked past the door. Well, that just needed a couple more frames cutting from the box…

A few minutes of laser-cutting and we were ready for assembly.

Laser-cutting done

Then after a bit of glueing, it was set to be installed.

Assembled sign

And now everyone knows where the workshop is!

Workshop sign close-up
Workshop Sign on the door
Workshop Sign in place
"Week 101 – Blue Smoke and Laser Surgery"

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Monday 13th May, 6-8pm PyPool
Tuesday 14th May, 4:30pm Epic Trip #3: Fire! Fire!
Tuesday 14th May, 7-9pm Breakerfaire
Wednesday 15th May, 6:30-8pm Liverpool Friends of the Earth
Saturday 18th May, 10am-5pm Hack the Space
"Week 100 – Logo, Lasers and Lots of Data"

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Tuesday 7th May, 6:30-9pm Clojure Dojo
Wednesday 8th May, 6-9pm Maker Night
Thursday 9th May, 7-9pm Lean Liverpool
Saturday 11th May, 10am-5pm Maker Day
Saturday 11th May, 11am-2pm Future Makers
  • amcewen
  • Weeknotes
  • Comments Off on Week 99 – Showing Off: Internet World and Maker Faire UK
"Week 99 – Showing Off: Internet World and Maker Faire UK"

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Monday 29th April, 4:30-5:30pm Organisation Meeting
Tuesday 30th April, 6:30-9pm GeekUp Liverpool 6th Anniversary!
Wednesday 1st May, 6-8pm UX Liverpool Their first time at DoES Liverpool
  • amcewen
  • Weeknotes
  • Comments Off on Week 98 – Internet World and Maker Faire Prep, Python and Press
"Week 98 – Internet World and Maker Faire Prep, Python and Press"

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Monday 15th April, 6:30-9pm Maker Night
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